Bears practice notes from Thursday night

Several tweet-worthy nuggets on a Twitter-less night

August 7, 2009, 10:37 AM

By: Jeff Dickerson

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Go figure. My first Twitter-free practice featured a record amount of tweet-worthy nuggets.

With Danieal Manning (hamstring) and Kevin Payne (hamstring, I think -- "lower leg, hamstring-type muscle," according to Lovie Smith) taking most of the night off, Josh Bullocks and rookie Al Afalava got some reps with the first team at safety.

Al Afalava

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With Danieal Manning and Kevin Payne taking most of the night off Thursday, Al Afalava, right, got some reps with the first team at safety.

"Overall, I mean without seeing the video, it looked like they did a pretty good job," secondary coach Jon Hoke said. "I felt like they were in the positions they were supposed to be. They did a pretty good job of communicating out there, making sure everybody was on the same page. We managed the big plays, were able to get some turnovers, so that was big."

Forced to miss the majority of the offseason workouts because Oregon State was on the quarter system, Afalava sounds like a quick learner -- who has also benefited from some good coaching.

"He's done a nice job," Hoke said. "He's done a real nice job catching up. [Assistant defensive backs/safeties coach] Gil Byrd did a great job in the offseason keeping him up to date with what was going on. [Byrd] would call him whether he was in Oregon or Hawaii, so he did a good job staying on top of it."

Moving up a tier on the defense, Jamar Williams saw some extended action with the starters at strongside linebacker. The versatile Williams can play all three linebacker spots and is expected to compete with Pisa Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach.

"I thought it went well," Williams said. "I saw a couple looks that I haven't seen since OTAs, but I was able to go out there and make a few plays. For the most part I was out there just trying to run fast and make plays."

Trumaine McBride continued to take Zack Bowman's spot at cornerback, while Corey Graham played the nickel in place of Manning. Smith said both Manning and Payne should practice Friday.

On the other side of the ball, Kevin Shaffer spelled Orlando Pace at left tackle, while Josh Beekman continues to put a stranglehold on the left guard slot.

This will be the last time I point out Beekman's playing with the first team, because he has far and away outperformed Frank Omiyale in camp. I freely admit to being one of those who felt Omiyale would start given his contract and the speed with which the Bears pursued him in free agency. It's not even close. To be fair, Omiyale is learning a new position in a new system, and he doesn't have much experience. I'm not writing him off, but he has a long way to go to unseat Beekman, who's had an excellent first week in Bourbonnais.

Other news and notes:

•Zack Bowman was out watching practice and moving around on his strained hamstring.

•Bullocks and Woodny Turenne hauled in interceptions during 7-on-7 drills.

Kellen Davis made a diving catch in the back of the end zone on a pass by Brett Basanez.

Dusty Dvoracek and Adewale Ogunleye collided as Jay Cutler moved up in the pocket to avoid the rush. Ogunleye got the worst of it.

Matt Forte caught a pass out of the backfield and turned on the jets. His hamstring must be feeling better.

Garrett Wolfe dropped a pass down the middle as Bullocks closed in from over the top.

•About 8,000 fans showed up to watch the padded practice.

Desmond Clark returned to action after a veteran's day on Wednesday.

•NFL officials worked Thursday night's practice.


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